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A Life at the Edge of the World 

Francis X. Hezel, S J. 

BX3701 .S88 

v.41 :no.4(2009:winter) 


Current Periodicals 

41/4 • WINTER 2009 


The Seminar is composed of a number of Jesuits appointed from their provinces in the United 

It concerns itself with topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and practice of Je- 
suits, especially United States Jesuits, and communicates the results to the members of the 
provinces through its publication, Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits. This is done in the 
spirit of Vatican lis recommendation that religious institutes recapture the original inspiration 
of their founders and adapt it to the circumstances of modern times. The Seminar welcomes 
reactions or comments in regard to the material that it publishes. 

The Seminar focuses its direct attention on the life and work of the Jesuits of the 
United States. The issues treated may be common also to Jesuits of other regions, to other 
priests, religious, and laity, to both men and women. Hence, the journal, while meant especially 
for American Jesuits, is not exclusively for them. Others who may find it helpful are cordially 
welcome to make use of it. 


R. Bentley Anderson, S.J., teaches history at St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo. (2008) 

Richard A. Blake, S.J., is chairman of the Seminar and editor of STUDIES; he teaches film stud- 
ies at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. (2002) 

Mark Bosco, S.J., teaches English and theology at Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, 111. 

Gerald T. Cobb, S.J., teaches English at Seattle University, Seattle, Wash. (2007) 

Terrence Dempsey, S.J., teaches art history and directs the Museum of Contemporary Reli- 
gious Art at St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo. (2009) 

Francis X. McAloon, S.J., teaches theology at the Jesuit School of Theology and the Graduate 
Theological Union, Berkeley, Cal. (2009) 

Michael C. McCarthy, S.J, teaches theology and classics at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, 
Cal. (2008) 

Thomas J. Scirghi, S.J., teaches theology at Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. (2007) 

Thomas Worcester, S.J., teaches history at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass. 

Michael A. Zampelli, S.J., teaches theater and dance at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, 
Cal. (2007) 

The opinions expressed in Studies are those of the individual authors. Parentheses 
designate year of entry as a Seminar member. 

Copyright © 2009 and published by the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality 

Business Office 

Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 

3601 Lindell Blvd., 

St. Louis, MO 63108 

Tel. 314-633-4622; Fax 314-633-4623 


Editorial Office 

Faber House 

102 College Road 

Chestnut HiU, MA 02467-3841 

Tel. 617-552-0860; Fax 617-552-0925 


A Life at the Edge 
of the World 

Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 


41/4 • WINTER 2009 

the first word . . . 

April is the crudest month." My great Aunt Tillie's lumbago! What kind of 
nonsense is that? What funny stuff was T. S. Eliot smoking when he came up 
with such idiocy? January is the cruelest month, with February running a very 
close second. One might also add in the nasty bits of December and March to 
round out the package of winter misery. Are my carefully nuanced feelings 
about this matter detectable under the surface? Yes, it's true. Despite living 
my entire life in northern climes, I still hate winter. It's bad enough that an old 
codger like me looks like the Pillsbury dough boy when he wrestles his post- 
Adonis body into parka and scarf, boots and gloves, and one of his collection of 
ridiculous hats, but even the comeliest of youth trundle around a college cam- 
pus like self-propelled throw pillows. Winter is dehumanizing. If Santa had any 
sense, once he makes his annual break from the North Pole, he'd keep going. To 
be humane he could give those odious little elves an extra suit of thermal green 
tights, with those tiny pointed shoes attached, and then leave them alone to run 
the toy factory while he winters in Cancun. Despite Al Gore, some of us must 
own up to ambivalent feelings about global warming. In mid-January it has 
much to commend it. 

My rage at the thought of winter surely has its roots in the Society. As a 
boy growing up in Brooklyn — no tropical paradise that — seasons were irrele- 
vant. We rode sleds and built snow forts, like kids everywhere north of Padu- 
cah, and paid little attention to chapped faces, runny noses, and the gradual 
numbing of extremities. During my high-school years, it seemed that weath- 
er was something that happened between the front door and the subway sta- 
tion. Overcrowded and overheated trains provided an intervenient thaw, or 
roast, before another interval of slipping and slopping from subway to school. 
One could turn up a topcoat collar as a concession to the elements — that was 
cool — but one could never, ever wear a hat, even if one's really cool pompadour 
drooped in the sleet. (If these fashion statements puzzle you, get someone over 
sixty to explain.) 

The novitiate changed my relationship to winter forever. Imagine the 
open-mouthed stupefaction of a city boy when he is told that spending forty 
minutes shivering on a platform overlooking the frozen Hudson River in mid- 
winter is actually evening recreation. Recreation! As the Twentieth Century 
Limited sped up-river on its way to Chicago, we assured one another that those 
people sitting on comfortable chairs, sipping cocktails in a well-heated club car 
were not really happy. Could have fooled me. For some strange reason, lost in 


the lore of the long black line, putting one's hands in one's pockets was some- 
how a violation of the rules of modesty, and the standard-issue gloves were 
those striped cotton work gloves with leather palms. Think of it: Hudson Val- 
ley, January at night, cotton gloves. As a special treat, on Thursdays, we could 
picnic amid the drifts and glaciers for a quiet hour between outdoor work de- 
tails in the morning and an afternoon's stroll through the forest primeval. Since 
basketball and touch football were billed as violations of the rule of touch, the 
options for afternoon "games" were somewhat limited. My sole consolation 
arose from the thought that I could have been sent to Plattsburg on the shores 
of Lake Champlain, a few hours by dogsled from the Canadian border. 

Sports were limited but not altogether absent. In those years the novitiate 
had a goodly proportion of tundra natives. In addition to the usual contingent 
from Buffalo and Rochester, St. Andrew hosted a rather large group of New 
Englanders, who were exiled to foreign territories after fire destroyed Shadow- 
brook. This combination formed a lethal critical mass that actually liked play- 
ing hockey outdoors on a frozen pond. (A truly bizarre custom: everyone 
knows hockey should be played on rollerskates on a smooth asphalt side street 
with a role of friction tape as the puck, curbstones as boards, and manhole cov- 
ers as goals.) On special afternoons, the Aleuts, Inuits, and Bostonians would 
skate up and down the ice, while the rest of us stood around in wet socks 
shouting clever cheers like "Nice shot, brother." What we said to one another in 
lowered voices was substantially different. 

Not that I didn't try to join in the alleged fun, but I had several handi- 
caps to overcome. First of all, I'd never skated on ice. Not to worry; I was up 
for acquiring new skills. Hadn't I just learned how to tie a cincture and crack 
eggs with one hand. The problem had an added complication in my case. I 
never thought to add ice skates to my novitiate trousseau. No problem. Broth- 
er Sub could supply common-stock skates for my winter blunderland. But he 
ran into one other problem. He could not find a matching pair approximating 
my size, even with toes stuffed with paper. Time to improvise. He fixed me up 
with one figure skate and one hard-toed hockey skate, whose blades are a full 
inch further from the sole of the shoe than those of figure skates. Thus whenev- 
er I shambled out onto the ice, I had a distinct list to starboard. Aren't we hav- 
ing fun, brother? That may be the last time I leaned to the right in any circum- 

Some of us deluded New York City boys held the naive presumption 
that skating ice merely happened. Not so. Once a pond freezes over, it snows — 
and snows and snows in upstate New York. If the snow gets an extra coating 
of rain or sleet and refreezes, it ruins the surface of the ice for skating. The only 
remedy involves shoveling off portions of the pond as soon as possible after a 
snowstorm. "Save the lake!" held the same terror as "Your money or yoUr life." 
After the ordeal of shoveling off ice, the novices had "extended recreation" dur- 
ing which they could spend even more time fending off frostbite. Gamely tilted 
to the right, I took to the ice with meager satisfaction in knowing that because 


of me Poughkeepsie had a leaning monument to rival Pisa's. Bears have the 
right idea about winter. They wriggle into a hole and sleep until it goes away. 

Regency in Manhattan and theology in subtropical Woodstock outside 
Baltimore had softened me up more than I realized. Chicago brought me back 
to reality in a hurry. Armed against the elements with only my Patapsco parka, 
I was no match for the sadistic breezes that rose in anger from the ice floes of 
Lake Michigan and wandered the streets of Evanston looking for something 
to devour. Jack Frost nipping at my nose bore a strange resemblance to T-Rex, 
tearing huge chunks of flesh out of my body with fangs the size of hockey 
sticks. After the first serious cold snap, I remember staying on the El after class 
and riding down to the Loop where I bought the biggest woolliest parka I could 
find, confident that the province prefect of studies would cover the bill, with or 
without a tsk-tsk note. (He did. Without a single tsk.) 

Then, after years of relative bliss in weatherless Manhattan and sultry 
Washington, the novitiate in Syracuse skied its way into my life. Those who 
have served in the novitiate in Minnesota have the right to dismiss me as a 
whiner and softy. They're right, of course, but comparatively moderate tem- 
peratures in New York have to be balanced against the snowfall. The natives 
claim that it's not really snow but lake-effect. (Don't the Arabs have forty words 
for sand?) Nonetheless over a hundred inches of the white stuff, whatever the 
name, falls every year. I learned to operate and repair a snow blower, much to 
the amusement of the novices. For weeks on end, one travels around the Le- 
Moyne campus through a series of slit trenches. I've heard that SUNY-Geneseo, 
a few miles down the pike, has ropes connecting the buildings to keep stu- 
dents from getting lost as they grope their way through the white-out to the 
next class. Perhaps it's an urban myth, but it's feasible. During the long, white 
months on the shores of Lake Onondaga, the sun seems to be wintering else- 
where, since the sky always had the color of overcooked corned beef. 

Speaking of winter sun; I'm now in Boston. The temperatures don't vary 
much from New York, but Boston College does not provide a subway to com- 
mute between residence, office, and library. My Syracuse sun-suit, a hooded 
down parka, knit cap and Timberland boots make my travels around Chestnut 
Hill endurable. The darkness, however, came as a bit of a surprise. Boston rests 
at the eastern rim of the time zone that extends over to Detroit. As the winter 
solstice chips away at the remains of my fragile psyche, the sun slips beneath 
the horizon at four o'clock. It's worse than Dublin. While we're stumbling 
around in the dark back East, colleagues at Detroit Mercy are still applying sun- 
screen. Human beings, at least some of us, are not intended to survive on nine 
hours of sunlight a day. 

Well, you might justifiably reason, if you can't stand the cold, get out of 
the refrigerator. Actually, dreams of leisure on some quiet tropical island do 
invade my fantasy life every once in a while. Palm trees swaying to the gen- 
tle music of the trade winds, pristine beaches opening onto lagoons, where the 
water doesn't provoke cardiac arrest and hypothermia, the strains of a distant 
ukulele — ah, perfect bliss! Several years ago a New York provincial thanked 

me for doing a project for him. By way of compensation, I suggested that he 
arrange for me to become Assistancy coordinator of villas. The job would in- 
volve staying at all the villa houses in the country during vacation periods 
and then, as fall tightened its icy fingers around my throat, withdrawing to an 
office on Aruba to write a ten-page report of my findings for the Jesuit Con- 
ference. He reminded me that he had no jurisdiction in Aruba, but he could 
work something out for me in Abuja, Nigeria. Lesson learned: never engage 
in banter about assignments with a provincial. You may have the jokes, but 
he's got the punch lines. 

The trouble with my fantasy of life in the tropics is just that: a fantasy. 
I've never lived there or even visited. My ancestors lived in caves on an is- 
land where the sun never shines, leaving me with the blue eyes and chalky 
skin that does really strange things when exposed to sunlight. We of the Celtic 
tribe have dedicated our Jesuit Health Trust to the task sending the children of 
dermatologists through the Ivy League. And I don't swim, so there go the fan- 
tasies about scuba diving in crystal-clear waters around breath-taking coral 
reefs. I've never tasted coconut milk and would be hard-pressed to figure out 
how to get it out of its armored shell. In fact the only coconut I've ever tasted 
is the sticky stuff that they sprinkle on pastry and stuff into candy bars, where 
the flavor is surely overpowered by sugar. And if I couldn't spend all day, ev- 
ery day, rocking in my hammock, what would I actually do? Are there librar- 
ies, DVDs, electricity, restaurants, theaters? Do you need air conditioning? 
What is life in a tropical paradise really like? Really? 

If you're curious, read on. The author of this issue has been in the Caro- 
line Islands for over forty years. As you can see from his author identification, 
he's done it all: pastoral work, education, Society administration, and scien- 
tific research. He is a prolific writer, whose works have gained enormous re- 
spect in the region. It's time to share the word with mainland Jesuits, and the 
Seminar is grateful that he chose Studies as the means to present his story. He 
tells us what life on a series of small tropical islands is really like, both for the 
resident peoples and for the American Jesuits who serve their needs. Inter- 
twined with the anecdotal material one can detect an undercurrent of pro- 
found theological and spiritual reflection. What would ever motivate some- 
one to do what Fran has done? We believe that our readers will be as grateful 
to read his story as we were. 

This issue has provoked some wider reflections about Jesuit life. Last 
summer, several of us from the New York and Maryland Provinces got togeth- 
er at Fordham to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of our ordination. Many 
of us hadn't seen one another in decades, and as is the way with reunions, we 
talked well into the night, both recalling shared memories and catching up on 
our lives after Woodstock. We'd certainly traveled divergent paths, all intrigu- 
ing, all mysterious in their own way, and all embodying a desire to follow the 
Standard of the Christ through our lives in the Society. We'd heard about as- 
signments and reassignments, for the most part, but notices in the Status and 
Catalogus tell only a minimal part of the story. 


As the evening wore on, it struck me how little we Jesuits really know 
about one another and ministries of our companions. It's amazing how iso- 
lated we can become in our own worlds and immediate concerns. Does a uni- 
versity professor really know very much about the daily challenges of life in 
a high school or parish? Or does a retreat director understand on a gut level 
the tedium of reading theses, attending faculty meetings, and trying to do 
research under pressure to produce? Can men living in small communities 
move beyond recollections of the old huge scholasticates and imagine what 
life in a large university community is like today? And do Jesuits in institu- 
tional communities appreciate the consolations and trials of small-group liv- 
ing? How do we cope with loneliness and the need for private space in any 
community setting? Do we understand the emotional costs of retirement, 
of searching for a job, of being denied tenure, or vows, or ordination? What 
are other Jesuits going through in their lives? What keeps them going? What 
pushes them to the edge of giving it all up? What can we learn from one an- 

We sat and talked, men with much in common, yet each living in a 
cocoon of mystery, each of us, if not entering the twilight of our careers, at 
least well into the mid-afternoon. What have we learned, what do we know? 
As Fran reminded us in his homily, some forty years ago we each charged 
off like Don Quixote ready to tilt at our own particular windmills. Over the 
years, we learned that sometimes the windmills win. There's a wealth of wis- 
dom to be mined from those experiences. 

Fran Hezel's life at "the edge of the world/' may be the most exot- 
ic story told that evening. Now it is a delight to be able to share it with our 

Richard A. Blake, S.J. 




I. Journey to the Missions 1 

Micronesian Mission: A History 4 

II. Fitting In 8 

Re-entry Shock 11 

In Search of a Theology of Mission 12 

III. Reentry into the Field 15 

Ministry in the Islands 16 

Companions in the Mission 18 

IV. Redefinition of Our Mission 20 

Micronesian Seminar 22 

Building the Local Church 23 

The Balance Sheet 25 

The Value of a "Backwater" 26 

V. Other Forms of Border Crossing 28 

The Passing of the Foreign Missions 29 

Think Big Even When Living Small 30 


Francis X. Hezel, S.]., first went to Micronesia in 1963. In the years 
that followed, he served as principal and director of Xavier High 
School in Chuuk, known then as Truk. He was regional superior of 
the Jesuits in Micronesia and then local superior of the Jesuits on 
Pohnpei. As director of the Micronesian Seminar he researched and 
wrote fourteen books, five published by the University of Hawaii 
Press, and dozens of articles and monographs on issues facing local 
people, such as alcohol abuse, suicide, development, and family life. 
Through the Seminar he established a major research library of books, 
photos, and DVDs, produced radio and video programs on the his- 
tory of the islands, and conducts workshops for catechists and edu- 
cators. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of 
Guam and Fordham University. 


A Life at the Edge 
of the World 

In the last half-century the role of the foreign missionary and 
the concept of mission in the work of the Society have changed 
markedly. The experience of one Jesuit shows how the legacy 
of the past can he incorporated into the present and help set 
directions for the future. 

I. The Journey to the Missions 

1 ntrance into the Society of Jesus was an adventure for all of us back 
■ ■ in the 1950s, when streams of teenagers, most of them graduates of 
I i J Jesuit high schools, headed for novitiates every year. The sense of 
adventure was heightened for some who entered with the stipulation that 
they would be sent to the foreign missions if they were judged suitable. 
After all, we were the product of a generation that had faithfully donated 
pennies and nickels during our early Catholic-school years to " rescue pa- 
gan babies' 7 from the fate that awaited the unbaptized. 

But that was far from my thoughts when I entered the Society in 
1956 after graduating from Canisius High School in Buffalo. I was capti- 
vated by other aspects of Jesuit life: high-school teaching, like the Jesuit 
scholastics I admired at Canisius, and the breadth of interest in the Soci- 
ety that translated into just about everything that could fascinate a teen- 
ager with a dawning sense of the world. There were Jesuit astronomers, 
paleontologists, vulcanologists, glacier priests, zoologists, botanists — and 
even puppeteers and mimes, as I was to find out later. Jesuits were clearly 
men who embraced the world, whose interests were as boundless as the 

% Francis X. Hezel, SJ. 

planet and beyond. It wasn't much of a stretch, years later when I was 
introduced to the books of Mary Doria Russell, to imagine Jesuits on a 
spacecraft speeding toward the planet of "the singers" in another con- 
stellation. 1 

As a high-school student, I had read Saint among the Hurons and 
been captivated by the heroism of Jean de Brebeuf, the sturdy Norman 
who had endured excruciating torture at the hands of the Iroquois, and 
done it so bravely that at his death his captors paid him the compliment 
of ripping out his heart and devouring it in the hope that they might in- 
gest some of his courage. 2 Perhaps even more touching was the story 
of Noel Chabanel, the cultured and sensitive Jesuit who found himself 
hopelessly out of place in New France, a man who easily read Greek 
and Latin but could never master any of the Native American languag- 
es, a person who found life in the wilderness repugnant but who none- 
theless took a vow to remain until death in the land of the people he had 
always hoped to serve. 3 

In the novitiate I was selected to do a presentation on the Car- 
oline-Marshall Islands as part of a series that we second-year novices 
did on mission areas, but the topic aroused little real interest in me at 
the time. It was an assignment, and so I did it. The bibliographic tools 
were very basic: an oversize spiral-bound volume of maps of the is- 
lands showing the location of mission facilities, listing mission person- 
nel, and offering a thumbnail history, and also a couple of books penned 
by missionaries themselves. 4 I learned that the Caroline and Marshall 

*Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow (New York, Villard, 1996), and her sequel Chil- 
dren of God (New York: Villard, 1998). 

2 Francis X. Talbot, S.J., Saint among the Hurons (New York: Mass Market Paper- 
backs, 1956). 

3 Story of Noel Chabanel, recounted in an English-literature textbook. 

4 Thomas J. Feeney, S.J., A Prospectus of the Physical Status of the Caroline and' Mar- 
shall Islands (New York: Society of Jesus, 1955). Feeney, who in 1952 was appointed the 
first American vicar apostolic of the Caroline and Marshall Islands, issued this short 
publication to encourage burses and legacies that would benefit the mission. Feeney, 
who spent five years in the Marshall Islands before being named a bishop, was also the 
author of Letters from Likiep (New York: Pandick, 1952), a compilation of essays on life in 
the Marshall Islands. Bill Rively, who served the remote atolls in Chuuk, describes being 
lost at sea in an outrigger canoe for four days after he and his companions barely sur- 
vived a typhoon. When finally rescued, he determined to find the money to purchase a 
second-hand brigantine, which he renamed "Star of the Sea." See William E. Rively, S.J., 
The Story of the Romance (New York: Rhinehart & Co, 1953). 

* Francis X. Hezel, S J. 

Islands contained about one hundred inhabited islands in all that could 
be broken down into six major island groups, each group with a popu- 
lation of a few thousand (5,000-25,000). Although the counts varied, it 
was generally agreed that there were at least eight different languages 
in the area, some with as few as a couple of hundred speakers. As far 
as I could determine, a mysterious food known as breadfruit, togeth- 
er with more familiar foodstuffs like taro and tapioca, figured promi- 
nently in the diet. Housing was generally simple and was built of lo- 
cal wood, scraps of imported lumber and tin, and whatever else people 
could gather. But the most striking characteristic of the place was that 
nearly everywhere transportation was by boat. The image of the single 
outrigger canoe repeatedly showed up on the pages of the works I con- 
sulted, as if it were the symbol of the archipelago. The Trust Territory 
Government, managed by the U.S. Department of Interior, maintained 
a small fleet of old steamers that provided ship service between islands 
and contracted with PanAm to keep a couple of small planes flying to 
provide minimal air service with the outside world. But transportation 
was bound to be a challenge since the ratio of water to land area was 
nearly 10,000:1. These were islands, after all, and very small islands at 
that. All this seemed challenging for those Jesuits destined to spend the 
rest of their lives in such a doubly isolated place. Not only was it half a 
world away from the towns and cities they grew up in and called their 
home, but the Jesuits there seemed equally isolated from one another 
and even from many of those they were supposed to be serving. 

The decision to apply for the missions came suddenly, one late- 
summer day in 1962 as I was reading Beyond All Horizons: Jesuits and the 
Missions, a beautifully edited compendium on the subject by Thomas 
Burke. I was sitting alongside the pool at the philosophate in Westchester 
County, just north of New York City, as we were preparing to begin the 
final year of our philosophical studies. 5 The newly formed Buffalo Prov- 
ince, of which I was a member, inherited from its parent New York Prov- 
ince the mission of the Caroline-Marshall Islands. I remember the thrill 
of reading the chapter on the greats who had served overseas: Ales- 
sandro Valignano in Japan, Matteo Ricci in China, Robert De Nobili in 
India, Jose de Anchieta in Brazil, and Eusebio Kino in North America. 
Burke's volume went on to describe contemporary mission work in sev- 
eral countries, including the Philippines and the Caroline-Marshall Is- 

5 Thomas J. Burke, S.J., Beyond All Horizons: Jesuits and the Missions (New York: 
Hanover House, 1957). 

Life at the Edge of the World * 

lands. In recounting the glories of the Jesuit missions, past and present, 
the book stirred my imagination in a way that I had not expected. 

Yet, the little I knew of the Caroline-Marshall Islands was enough 
to deflate the romanticism of the "missions" and make me wonder 
whether I really ought to be thinking of this field at all. From what I 
had read, Jesuits assigned there had to be ready for the inglorious work 
of fixing their own outboard engines, laying foundations for church- 
es and schools, and moving constantly from one village to the next on 
what appeared to be an endless round of Masses. On top of all this, the 
missionary was expected to learn the local language — surely nothing as 
difficult as Mandarin or Japanese or Vietnamese, but of a different or- 
der altogether from the Indo-European languages to which we all had 
been exposed during our studies. Although I had not yet read Somerset 
Maugham, James Michener, Nordhoff and Hall, and Louis Becke (that 
would come later), we all had an appreciation of the mystique that the 
South Pacific had in the eyes of Westerners. Still, Micronesia was by defi- 
nition a small place, a backwater in the sea of missions that Jesuits had 
staffed over the centuries; it was of a very different order from the king- 
doms and the centers of power that Jesuits once assaulted. We needed 
a Jesuit to teach at our high school simply because this was the mission 
assigned to the province, and regents assigned to Xavier High School, 
the mission school in Chuuk, were expected to return after their ordi- 
nation to add to the supply of Jesuit priests. In the afterglow of Burke's 
volume, impulsively and discounting whatever second thoughts I may 
have had, I wrote to the provincial to volunteer for the Caroline-Mar- 
shalls Mission. 

Micronesian Mission: A History 

The Caroline and Marshall Islands, scattered throughout the 
western Pacific, had for centuries been little more than way stations or 
stepping-stones for Westerners to more alluring destinations™ Japan, In- 
donesia, the Philippines, and the shores of the Asian continent. Back in 
the sixteenth century, the golden age of Spanish exploration, the islands 
had first made their way onto Western maps. Some of them served as 
watering and reprovisioning stops for the caravels that sought the spic- 
es of the East Indies or the galleons that traded in the Philippines. Three 
centuries later the same islands became convenient stopovers for Amer- 
ican merchants engaged in the lucrative China trade. Then, toward the 
end of the nineteenth century, the islands were annexed by Spain, only 
to be sold to Germany at the end of the Spanish- American War, and fi- 

Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

nally seized by Japan at the outbreak of World War I. During the Second 
World War, the islands had acquired an importance for the Japanese 
as staging areas and military bases for its push eastward and south- 
ward. Then, a few years later, these outposts were either neutralized or 
taken by assault during the Allied drive toward Japan headed by Ad- 
miral Chester Nimitz. The names of some of the islands — Peleliu, An- 
gaur, Truk (now known as Chuuk), and Saipan — were once instantly 
recognized by Americans and were immortalized in military history, be- 
fore these names, like the islands themselves, receded back into obscu- 
rity. Through it all, the value of these islands remained that of stepping- 
stones to somewhere else. 

Jesuits have long been able to claim a spiritual paternity over the 
region, for it was Jesuits who first brought the faith to Micronesia in 
the late-seventeenth century. Blessed Luis de San Vitores and five Jesu- 
it companions, accompanied by several catechists and a small force of 
Filipino troops, reached Guam in 1668. Their mission to Guam and the 
Marianas, the archipelago extending north-south just above the Caro- 
lines, had the distinction of being the first Christian missionary venture 
of any sort into Oceania. Conversion of these islands was not easily ac- 
complished, even though the troops, whose responsibility was to pro- 
tect the missionaries, enjoyed the advantage of muskets. In the course 
of the guerrilla warfare that followed the establishment of this Spanish 
colony, a dozen Jesuits lost their lives; and three more were killed a few 
years later in the failed attempts to extend the mission southward into 
the Caroline Islands. Consequently, the Marianas Mission acquired the 
same cachet as the much more publicized North American Mission and 
for the same reasons. Blood shed in the name of the faith had an irresist- 
ible appeal in those days, and so Jesuits from every part of Europe — Bo- 
hemia, Italy, Austria — soon volunteered to join Spanish missionaries in 
the held. 6 

6 Mention of the hostilities between the Spanish and local islanders is bound to 
trigger memories of colonization in New Spain and evoke comparisons with the pillage, 
cultural depredation, and depopulation that occurred there. There were similarities, to 
be sure, but it was cultural misunderstandings, personal offenses, and perhaps quarrels 
over women, not the desire for gold or spices, that incited conflict in the Marianas. Je- 
suits were not entirely blameless throughout the twenty years of guerrilla warfare, but 
they played a much less invidious role than was attributed to them by some early au- 
thors. It should also be noted that the rapid depopulation of the island group — a decline 
of from forty-thousand to four thousand in forty years' time — can be blamed largely on 
the diseases that the foreigners brought rather than the carnage wrought in war. For a 
history of this period and assessment of the causes of hostilities and their cultural cost, 

Life at the Edge of the World * 

It was two centuries later, in the late-nineteenth century, that Cath- 
olic missionaries finally made their way south into the Caroline and Mar- 
shall Islands. Spanish Capuchins began work in 1886, soon after Spain 
was awarded possession of the Carolines. When the islands became a 
colony of Germany shortly after the Spanish- American War, German 
Capuchins relieved the Spanish friars even as German-speaking Mis- 
sionaries of the Sacred Heart opened their own field in the Marshall Is- 
lands. The German missionaries had barely begun their work when the 
islands once again changed hands, this time passing over to Japan at the 
onset of World War I. Since the 

German missionaries were re- - 

garded as emissaries of a hos- With the mission largely in ruins, 

tile power (Germany and Ja- the foremost task of the first 

pan were on opposing sides in generation of American Jesuits 

the war), all religious were ex- was one of rebuilding churches 

pelled between 1914 and 1919. and schools, reestablishing the 

\\7U a a • i qiv ordinary parish life that had been 

vv nen jr\cimirai ^?ni- • •» •*• , -> ■* • . •» 

., , 7 , seriously disrupted during the war 

iiro Yamamoto 7 appeared at J , r *. ,* % , 7 ,. 

the Vatican in 1920 to request ^ earS ' a f fP an f™8 *f Cathohc - 
~ .! ,. . . . c school system in the mission. 

Catholic missionaries from a J 

neutral country, Pope Benedict 
XV reportedly attempted to 

persuade four different religious orders to take on the mission, but they 
all pleaded lack of manpower to staff the new mission field. The Pope fi- 
nally turned to the Jesuits and requested that the Society, by virtue of its 
vow to accept special missions from the pontiff, assume responsibility 
for the mission. What could Fr. Wladimir Ledochowski — or any gener- 
al for that matter — say to such a request? The mission was turned over 
to the Spanish Assistancy, and within a year twenty-two Jesuits set sail 
for the island mission that the other major religious congregations had 
turned down. 

see "From Conversion to Conquest: The Early Spanish Mission in the Marianas," by 
Francis X. Hezel, Journal of Pacific History 17 (1982): 3-4; 115-37; and id., "From Conquest 
to Colonization: Spain in the Marianas, 1690-1740," Journal of Pacific History 23 (1988): 
137-55. A fuller version of this second article was published as a monograph in the Mi- 
cronesian Archaeological Survey Report Series: Francis X. Hezel, From Conquest to Colo- 
nization (Saipan: Division of Historic Preservation, 1989). 

7 Shijiro Yamamoto, not to be confused with Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of World 
War II fame, came from a longtime Catholic family and was a legate to the Vatican in 

8 * Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

Building on the work done by the Capuchins before them, Span- 
ish Jesuits founded new parishes, opened elementary schools, and in- 
augurated many parish organizations that continued to operate until 
well after the Second World War. These parish organizations, sex- and 
age-graded like most traditional island groups, were the source of life 
for the parishes: there were the Luistas (named for Aloysius Gonzaga) 
and the Estanislaoistas (in honor of Stanislaus Kostka), any number of 
women's groups (usually given some title of our Lady), and men's or- 
ganizations (often named after St. Ignatius). Conditions in the mission 
were admittedly rough at times, especially in the first few years of their 
work. When Br. Aniceto Arizaleta was digging the foundations of a new 
church in the Mortlocks, he was forced to use a frying pan for lack of 
any other tools. He also wrote of having nothing more than a bit of 
pumpkin and a single egg to share with his priest-companion, Fr. Mar- 
tin Espinal, for dinner one evening when breadfruit was out of season 
and nothing else to eat was to be found. Under the leadership of Msgr. 
Jaime DeRego, the vicar apostolic of the mission, the Jesuits fluttered 
about in their white cassocks from village to village and from island to 
island performing the unglamorous work that had to be done to build 
up the Christian communities throughout the islands. By the late 1930s, 
as war drew near, Japanese authorities curtailed the work of the mis- 
sionaries, later confining them to their own rectories and moving them 
even from these as suited the Japanese military. Finally, in late 1944, as 
the Allies were sweeping into the islands during the final year of the 
war, the Japanese executed six Jesuits who had served in Yap and Palau. 
They were either beheaded or shot, depending on which account one 
credits, and buried in a mass pit that has never been located. 8 

Following the war, it was Americans' turn to try their hand at the 
mission. Indeed, the Department of the Navy, which insisted that all 
new mission personnel be Americans, would have repatriated the re- 
maining Spanish Jesuits if Cardinal Francis Spellman, the military ordi- 
nary at that time, had not petitioned the U.S. Navy to allow them to con- 
tinue their work, if only to permit an easier transition. The mission was 
open to the entire U.S. Assistancy for a year until, in 1947, it was turned 

8 Fr. Luis Blanco Suarez, Fr. Bernardo de la Espriella, and Br.. Francisco Hernan- 
dez were ordered out of Yap and relocated by the Japanese military on Palau early in 
the war. There they joined Fr. Marino de La Hoz, Fr. Elias Fernandez, and Br.. Emilio del 
Villar in a remote area where they were placed under house arrest. In September 1944, at 
the time of the U.S. invasion of the southern islands of Palau, the six Jesuits were execut- 
ed along with the family of a Guamanian weatherman who had been working on Yap. 

Life at the Edge of the World * 9 

over to the New York Province to staff, along with the Philippines and 
later Puerto Rico and Nigeria. 

With the mission largely in ruins, the foremost task of the first gen- 
eration of American Jesuits was one of rebuilding churches and schools, 
reestablishing the ordinary parish life that had been seriously disrupted 
during the war years, and expanding the Catholic-school system in the 
mission. The early American missionaries, many of whom would ac- 
quire reputations as big builders, were equal to the task. They included 
Len Hacker in the Marshalls, Hugh Costigan in Pohnpei, Jake Walter in 
the outer islands of Yap, John Hoek and Br. John Walter in Chunk. But 
these giants did not work alone. The same islanders who had nourished 
their piety through the long war years by gathering for daily rosary 
worked at the side of these men as they laid the concrete blocks in their 
parish buildings and as they slowly reconstituted parish life. Religious 
women, Mercedarians and Maryknoll Sisters, were brought in to teach 
at the schools. A Catholic high school, Xavier in Chuuk, was opened in 
1952, and a second one, Pohnpei Agriculture and Trade School (or PATS, 
as it was commonly known), would begin operations in 1965. By the 
early 1960s the Caroline and Marshall Mission had recovered from the 
war, and then some. The future was bright with promise in this small 
part of the world. 

II. Fitting In 

Such was the picture of the mission in 1963 when I was assigned 
to Micronesia to do regency at Xavier High School in Chunk. 9 My 
letter to Fr. James Shanahan, provincial of the Buffalo Province, 
volunteering for the missions was duly received, and I was asked to 
undergo a thorough physical exam. But in his reply to me, the provin- 
cial noted that there was only a single slot for a regent that year and a 

9 Xavier High School was originally opened as a minor seminary in 1952. A year 
later, when it was clear that the seminary project was overly ambitious, Xavier was con- 
verted into a boys boarding school, which immediately attracted the brightest young 
men from the entire mission. It still does, even though an opportunity for a good high- 
school education is far more common today. The entire school then was housed in a 
poured-concrete building constructed by the Japanese as a naval communications cen- 
ter on mission land the Japanese military had confiscated at the beginning of the war. 
With three-foot-thick cement walls and steel-shuttered windows, the building was de- 
signed more with an eye to protection against bombs and shells than for comfort, as we 
quickly discovered. 


Francis X. Hezel, SJ. 

;■ ;::v:"--;.. : - :.:. : . ■..-.;■ 

Micronesian Jesuit was due to finish his philosophy studies in the Phil- 
ippines within a few months. It was clear that I was to be the back-up. 
When, not long afterwards, the other scholastic asked to leave the Soci- 
ety, I received a letter instructing me that I would be assigned to Xavier 
for regency after all. 

The trans-Pacific flight to Guam in July 1963 was an adventure, 
but nothing compared to what happened when Fr. John Nash, my trav- 
eling companion, and I arrived and took up temporary residence in the 

Capuchin friary to await the weekly flight to Chuuk. Two weeks in a 
row, the two of us presented ourselves at the airport for check-in on 
the amphibious sixteen-seat plane that served the islands, only to be 
told that the flight was full and we would have to wait another week 
to get out. Then one day, just as we were beginning to despair of ever 
getting passage to Chuuk, we were informed that a military transport 
plane would bring us to Palau, a thousand miles west of our destina- 
tion. There we could catch a ship bringing students east to Chuuk. We 

Life at the Edge of the World * 11 

reached Palau without incident and were being transported from the 
landing strip on Angaur to Koror, the port town some fifty miles dis- 
tant, when our boat went aground on the reef. We waited for hours, 
sharing sandwiches and cookies and passing around a bottle or two of 
scotch, before we were rescued by another vessel. In the middle of the 
night, we were transferred to a vintage military landing craft that had 
been pressed into service as an occasional passenger ship, and so we fi- 
nally made our way into Koror a few hours before sunrise. Once there, 
we caught some sleep and prepared to board the ship that was to bring 
us to Chuuk, only to learn that it had been delayed for a week. Welcome 
to Micronesia, where nothing happens as planned! 

Three weeks or so after our departure from Guam, following an- 
other long delay on Yap, John Nash and I arrived in Chuuk at last. We 
were treated to the wonders of the Pacific: banana trees, with the fruit 
growing upside down; foliage everywhere of the deepest green I had 
ever seen; and, of course, the heat and humidity of an endless summer. 
All of it was new and exciting. We met the ninety high-school students, 
the intellectual cream of every island group in the mission. Their faces 
had softened from their images in the yearbook that I had seen less than 
a year before. They joked, they teased, there were miles of smiles. Since 
I had replaced my cousin, Ken Hezel, who had returned to the United 
States to begin his theology, they lost no time in reminding me that I was 
the " artificial Hezel" (he, of course, being the real item). The students 
were easy-going and easy to like. I could see that teaching would not be 
the contest for control that I had been led to believe occurred in the usu- 
al Jesuit high-school classroom, so I decided to jettison the old counsel 
provided to scholastics of that time: Never smile until Christmas. How 
could one help but smile, in class and out, with young men this engag- 
ing? Before long, I simply did what a generation of scholastics before me 
had already done: I fell in love with the school and the students and the 
regency assignment and the mission. 

This is not to say that were no challenges during regency. But many 
of them were the stuff of regency anywhere in the world, compound- 
ed a bit perhaps by the small (and entirely Jesuit) staff at the school. 
The school needed a choir and band director. Fine, I'd be willing to try 
my hand at these activities, even though I couldn't read music and had 
never played an instrument of any kind (I would have been challenged 
playing the kazoo). They needed a basketball and baseball coach? You 
can count on me, even if my enthusiasm far outweighed my ability in ei- 
ther sport. Then followed the camera club and the ham-radio class, but I 

12 * Francis X. Hezel, SJ. 

was sure that I could handle the basics of the darkroom and learn Morse 
Code. When Fr. Jerry Cuddy, the blustery ex-military chaplain who was 
then teaching physics, became discouraged with his class, he handed 
them off to me, convinced as he was by this time that I was ready for 
any challenge. So I struggled through the course, a few pages ahead of 
the class in the sophisticated new post-Sputnik textbook we were using, 
imposing even greater struggles on the students who attempted to un- 
derstand what we were doing in class. 

Thus was instilled a willingness to try just about anything, and so 
also was born the conviction that anyone who wanted to work in this 
held could not afford the luxury of mastering a trade before beginning 
to practice it. "Jack of all trades and master of none" was never more 
applicable than in the islands, and it has served me well over the years. 
My only truly marketable skills, it seems to me, were in the Latin and 
Greek classics, but I never had the opportunity to put them to use in the 
islands. I see now that it would have been a terrible mistake to put life 
on hold until I had the chance to exercise them. Choir and band, base- 
ball and basketball, camera club and ham radio — better a half-baked job 
than nothing at all. But then again, that may be the great lesson of re- 
gency no matter where it's made. Even so, Micronesians with their fine- 
ly tuned sensitivity and unfailing politeness made it so much easier, for 
we would never have been greeted by hooting, smirks, or rolling eyes 
as we stumbled through our duties. 

This recognition certainly allayed my initial fears that I had volun- 
teered for and been assigned to a mission where I wouldn't fit in. Boat 
repairs and construction? Running a credit union or a co-op? Learn- 
ing an island language? Spending my days visiting the sick, offering 
marriage preparation, and presiding at local liturgies? If a man like me 
could teach physics or direct the choir, why couldn't he try his hand at 
these as well? Fear of failure is a powerful inhibition for all of us, some- 
times a crippling one. But I was learning the limits of professionalism 
and of the careerism that sometimes accompanies it, not because I want- 
ed to, but because the lesson was forced upon me during regency and 
reinforced in the years since. 

Reentry Shock 

What the Peace Corps terms "reentry shock" — the flip side of the 
culture shock volunteers feel when they first experience life abroad — hit 
me hard when I returned to the United States after my three years of re- 
gency. In a strange reversal, life in the islands, which at first seemed so 

Life at the Edge of the World % 13 

odd, had by this time become the norm, while life in my own country 
now felt unfamiliar to me. Like so many others who have returned from 
an overseas mission, I desperately longed for a conversational partner, 
someone with whom I could share my experiences in the islands — what 
I had found fascinating and what remained puzzling and, above all, 
what I had learned about myself during those three formative years. 
Yet somehow, whenever I cautiously tried out these topics, I would see 
eyes glaze over and conversation drift off to Super Bowl contenders, or 
national politics, or how difficult if s become to find parking in the city. 
Doesn't anyone care about the islands? I inwardly screamed. The lone- 
liness was relieved only when ___ _^_ 
chatting with one of the other 

Jesuits who had been assigned There were n ° ther explanations 

to the mission or upon one of more compatible with Vatican II s 
the rare visits from persons liv- emphasis on the Church as a sign 

ing in the islands. of salvation The establishment 

of the Church in all parts of the 
I could better appreciate WQrUf evm { j {t WQuU nevey 

why those missionaries of old encompass entire populations, still 
used to haul around a carousel sfood as a sign of fhe universaX 

of slides that they would show salvific will of God. 

to anyone who expressed half 

an interest in their work. They — "— " — — ™ ~~~ — ■ —— ^~^^~ 
were as hungry as I was for someone with whom they could share their 
experiences. We who had served in Micronesia during regency clung to 
one another for this purpose, organizing monthly meetings for a group 
that we called the Micronesian Seminar. We collected books about the is- 
lands, stoked our energy for what we regarded as our inevitable return 
to the mission, talked about the fields of specialization that we would 
enter, and dreamed about how our collective efforts would elevate the 
islanders and their church. To a man, we were focused on our future 
ministry in a mission that had wormed its way into our whole being. 

Theology at Woodstock College in the mid-1960s brought its own 
challenges. One of the greatest was catching up with the changes of Vati- 
can II, from which I had been shielded in the islands. Each year during 
regency one of the four scholastics was chosen to serve as subdeacon 
in the solemn high Mass we celebrated for the students at Easter and 
Christmas. I had never even become used to Mass facing the people, but 
now we were all adapting to the idiosyncracies of the small-chapel lit- 
urgies that were offered to us daily. I still remember how awkward I felt 
when I was invited to sit in a chair to confess rather than kneel in front 

14 * Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

m wMmm amma 

of a screen, as I had always done. On the other hand, the changes in the 
theology program itself were welcome for anyone earnest about stud- 
ies, especially in view of the all-star faculty that Woodstock could boast 
of in those days. The problem for people like me, on the other hand, was 
the new emphasis placed on service projects just as I was trying desper- 
ately to regain a handhold on the cliffs of academia. 

In Search of a Theology of Mission 

Woodstock offered singular opportunities for people like me to 
update our mission theology. Avery Dulles offered a seminar on mis- 
siology that opened to us new currents of thought, while Jesuit Mis- 
sions sponsored an international conference on missions, held at Wood- 
stock, that drew some of the big names from throughout the world. This 
offered us an opportunity to reflect on just what the theological basis 
for mission is. Jesus' injunction at the end of Matthew's Gospel, and 
found in slightly altered form in the two other Synoptics, was clear: 
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the 
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit/' 10 But why? 
Church thinking on the matter of salvation had come a long way since 
the days when we saved our pennies to "ransom Chinese babies." Sure- 
ly there were other ways in which those who had never heard of Christ 
could be saved. For a generation that was raised on Rahner's theology 
of Anonymous Christianity, the voice of God that summons from with- 
in and that can be assented to in a "yes" that need not take the form of 
Church involvement, what does the explicit missionary activity of the 
Church add? 11 This question was debated passionately in the popular 
theology digests of the day. Men who had spent their whole adult lives 
overseas seemed to find the theological rationale of their apostolate un- 
dermined and their life's work questioned. They reacted strongly to the 
suggestion that post-conciliar theology rendered the foreign missionary 
an anachronism. 

Yet, there were other explanations, more compatible with Vatican 
II's emphasis on the Church as a sign of salvation. The establishment of 

10 Matt. 28:19. The command appears in slightly different forms in Mark 16:15 
and in Luke 24:47. 

"Karl Rahner first presented his position in the article "Anonymous Christians," 
Theological Investigations 6 (1969): 394 ff. (Baltimore: Helicon Press). Rahner's position 
was soon incorporated into missiological works of the day such as The Church as Mis- 
sion, by Eugene Hillman (New York: Herder and Herder, 1965) and Toward a Theology of 
Religions, by Heinz Robert Schlette (New York: Herder and Herder, 1966). 

Life at the Edge of the World * 15 

the Church in all parts of the world, even if it would never encompass 
entire populations, still stood as a sign of the universal salvihc will of 
God. The Church, faithful to the injunction of Christ and the dynamism 
of its own nature, would stand as a beacon to the world rather than an 
exclusive society of the saved. 12 It was a sacrament of Christ's saving 
work in the world, even when that work was carried out in other myste- 
rious ways far from the pulpit and altar. The Church's thrust to all parts 
of the world might be seen as a testimony to the concern of the Lord for 
all peoples, not just those with modern communications and transpor- 
tation systems. Here was something that I could resonate with. 

There were difficult questions urged on us by other voices, of 
course, as shouts of "Yankee, go home" echoed throughout the world. 
What about the effects of missionary movements in the past? Have mis- 
sionaries been unwitting collaborators with colonial powers, softening 
up local people for Western business or military interests? Have mis- 
sionaries unintentionally promoted the cultural values that are more in- 
trinsically linked to their home countries than to the Gospel itself? Giv- 
en the excesses of some of the earlier mission attempts, might not we 
do better to let people work out their salvation on their own rather than 
run the risk of infecting them with cultural imperialism? Ivan Illich, the 
self-anointed prophet of Latin America during this era, clearly thought 
so. Convinced that missionaries were contaminated by their own cul- 
tural values and so were carriers of a potentially deadly virus, Illich was 
urging future foreign missionaries to help out by staying home. 13 This 
is, in fact, what many of those who had been destined for the Philip- 
pines did. Confronted by the early stirrings of nationalistic resentment 
toward foreign missionaries, several friends of mine decided not to re- 
turn to the mission or left it not long after their return. 

Once, I remember, in our last year of theology we theologians were 
asked to prepare a statement on the international apostolate. As one of 
those asked to prepare a draft, I thought long and hard about what justi- 

12 Lumen gentium, 5 and 9. 

13 Nowhere was this message made more clearly — and stridently — than in Illich' s 
address to the Conference on Inter- American Student Projects (CIASP) in Cuernavaca, 
Mexico, on April 20, 1968. Illich began his speech thus: "For the past six years I have be- 
come known for my increasing opposition to the presence of any and all North Ameri- 
can "do-gooders" in Latin America. I am sure you know of my present efforts to obtain 
the voluntary withdrawal of all North American volunteer armies from Latin Ameri- 
ca — missionaries, Peace Corps members, and groups like yours, a "division" organized 
for the benevolent invasion of Mexico." 

16 % Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

fication could be made for our overseas work. We in Micronesia did not 
have the teeming millions that Latin America or Africa could boast of, 
nor did we suffer from the acute poverty, widespread unemployment, 
and the glaring injustice of those parts of the world. We were not, by any 
stretch of the imagination, one of the hinges on which the world swung. 
We had few people, with little formal education and almost no under- 
standing of how modern society worked. Yet, these people, marginal as 
they were, could claim to be children of the Lord and so no less worthy 
of the Church's attention than larger and more publicized peoples. 

By the time I left theology, the claim of the marginal on the Church 
had become a key component in my personal theology of mission. 
Even so, the nagging question persisted: Is working among a forgotten 
population at what appeared to many to be at the edge of the planet the 
" greater good" that Ignatius had in mind when formulating the crite- 
ria for Jesuit ministries? Perhaps the staunch advocates for serving the 
masses, as in the poor f avelas of Latin America, had a point after all. The 
misery there has always been far worse than in the fertile islands of the 
Pacific, the numbers are much greater, and there was always the bonus 
of possibly making a splash in the press, enticing other magnanimous 
souls to dedicate themselves to these places and peoples. Publicity was 
certainly not the end goal of Ignatian discernment, but it could be an ap- 
ostolic means of enhancing the value of ministry. And it was a sure bet 
that Micronesia wouldn't be making headlines anytime soon. 

HI. Reentry into the Field 

After my ordination in 1969, I returned to Micronesia as expect- 
ed, although more by default than as a matter of conviction. The 
late 1960s had been a tumultuous period in the United States, 
with its anti- Vietnam War protests, the rise of Haight-Ashbury, and the 
alternative lifestyles embraced there, the flowering of the youth revo- 
lution, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, 
and riots in several of the country's major cities. It was the season of 
communes, long-haired hippies, the Weathermen — that is to say, rebel- 
lion against the conventional in all its forms, founded on the belief that 
all human institutions were infinitely plastic and malleable enough to 
be reshaped if only the will and the numbers were there. Whether one 
bought into this view or not, it was clear that certain elemental forces 
were at work challenging virtually everything that we had taken for 
granted, including the faith we were raised in. New frontiers were be- 

Life at the Edge of the World $k 17 

ing flashed on our TV screens nightly: one of the last I witnessed in July 
1969 was Neil Armstrong's first steps on the surface of the moon. There 
seemed to be no end to the ways in which we were called to reshape our 
own culture, and now we were being confronted with challenges be- 
yond our own planet. 

To pack up and leave for the remote Pacific at a time like this 
seemed folly, so I hedged my bets and asked superiors if I might consid- 
er a doctoral degree in anthropology or history or Pacific studies — any- 
thing that might offer an escape route from a mission field that looked 
as though it might be a dead end. I returned to teach for a time in the 
same high school where I had done regency, but with the understanding 
that I would be enrolling in a graduate program after a year or two. 

The return to Chuuk proved to be a harsh transition. Six years ear- 
lier, when I had first landed in Micronesia, it was easy to find wonder in 
everything I experienced, pleasant or unpleasant, if only because it was 
novel. Now the geckos that ran up the walls and made strange chirp- 
ing sounds had lost their charm and were nothing better than an annoy- 
ance, one more trial added to the ubiquitous cockroaches and flies and 
mosquitoes and rats. The heat and humidity that I had accepted as a 
matter of course a few years earlier now seemed almost diabolical in the 
way they cloyed the mind and sapped what little energy I possessed. 
Even the students had lost the charm they once had for me. I was be- 
coming immune to their smiles, cynical about their irrepressible good 
humor. Now I was beginning to find off-putting the long pauses before 
they answered, with eyes lowered, and the evasiveness of their replies. 

Yet, somehow, by the end of the year I had ripped up the applica- 
tion form for the Australian National University that I had been keeping 
on my desk. I'm not sure why, other than the realization that if I ever left 
for studies I would probably never return to the islands. I could imag- 
ine teaching in a nearby college, the University of Guam perhaps or the 
University of Hawaii, and living on the fringe of the islands but not in 
them. Despite the initial revulsion at my return to island life, I knew that 
here was where I was meant to be. All I needed now was the rationale 
for my decision to stay, legitimation for the personal sense of mission I 
was beginning to feel. 

Ministry in the Islands 

As I continued teaching at Xavier High School, I was given an op- 
portunity to do social studies curriculum work, with emphasis on the 

18 % Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

islands, their history and culture, while introducing basic social-science 
concepts in the context of the social environment of the islands them- 
selves. This work issued in two high-school textbooks that were used 
for a time by island schools, private and public. My curriculum work 
led to a personal thirst for a deeper understanding of the history of the 
islands. So we purchased second-hand books: accounts of early French 
naval expeditions, memoirs of trading captains and beachcombers, sev- 
enteenth-century mission documents to add to our growing library on 
Micronesia. There were other opportunities to add to this storehouse: 
anthropological conferences, consultations with visiting Pacific histori- 
ans, and one memorable summer of travel through New England whal- 
ing museums to consult and copy from whaleship logs from the mid- 
1800s, the height of American whaling activities in the Pacific. 

It's one thing to know about culture, however, and quite anoth- 
er to understand it experientially. A half year of language study in a 
Chuukese village offered me that opportunity, even as it presented cul- 
tural conundrums every day. Never did I feel so alone, so incompetent 
than at the beginning of this experience. I'll never forget the first day in 
the village, after I was dropped off by Andrew Connolly, the pastor of 
the island cluster at the extreme western end of Chuuk. There was no 
one in the village to greet me, so I waited with a throbbing headache, 
wondering what I was doing here. I remember finding a place to lie 
down in a small hut, sleeping for a while, and waking to find a gaggle 
of young boys staring at me. My language learning immediately began 
as I walked through the village pointing to objects — trees, boats, turtles, 
firewood, anything at all — and asking the boys to give me the Chuuk- 
ese word for the object. Language study was guaranteed to shrink a per- 
son's ego to manageable size, but other opportunities for self-deflation 
also abounded. 

There were more than enough awkward moments, like trying to 
take a shower in a tin bathhouse in which the water spigot was bare- 
ly half a foot off the ground and learning that the idea was to nil a pail 
with water and splash it over your body as needed; figuring out how 
to balance on a single tottering two-by-four that served as the wobbly 
walkway to an over-the-lagoon latrine; discovering that there were no 
secrets in a small village when people asked me how I felt the morn- 
ing after I had made a hasty trip to the woods to vomit up my dinner 
in what I presumed was secrecy. If there were no secrets in an island 
village, there was no sense of privacy either. Children lined the house 
to watch with amusement as I did my daily exercises in the plywood 

Life at the Edge of the World * 19 

house that served as my temporary home. My box of personal posses- 
sions, toothbrush and cigars included, were fair game for my hosts, as I 
came to understand when I examined the contents upon my return after 
a weekend away 

After six months I acquired a rudimentary knowledge of the lan- 
guage — enough to get by on but not much more — along with a head full 

of cultural conundrums and enough stories to last a lifetime. Language 
learning was a lesson in humility, as it was for Noel Chabanel, I sup- 
pose. But it was also the reaffirmation of a truth that I was slowly and 
reluctantly coming to accept: that all of us in the mission were doomed 
to doing things half-well. A life of professionalism was out of the ques- 
tion in a place such as this. I had once been led to believe that overseas 
work would demand certain obvious sacrifices: theater, art galleries, 
televised sports, and the easy familiarity of home, with all that meant. 

20 * Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

But I gradually came to understand that it was far easier to surrender 
these than the satisfaction that comes from a job competently done. 
Years later, as I was thumbing through a copy of the Indian Assistancy 
publication JIVAN, I found an article by an Indian Jesuit working among 
tribal peoples in his own country, who portrayed himself as a man who 
had learned several "half languages." By this time I had tried my hand 
at another island language, Pohnpeian, and I instantly understood just 
what he meant. 

Barely was I back from the village when I was told that I was to be 
the principal of Xavier High School, replacing Fr. Jack Curran, who had 
been reassigned to pastoral work on the neighboring island of Pohnpei. 
Superiors assured me that it was to be a temporary assignment, since 
just a year earlier, at our mission-planning meeting, I had been cho- 
sen to direct the newly conceived research-pastoral institute, a new pro- 
gram that was christened with an old name, Micronesian Seminar. As it 
turned out, however, I was to spend two years as principal and another 
seven as director of the high school. 

Companions in Mission 

By the mid-1970s the age of the "giants of the mission" was already 
in deep decline. William "Jake" Walter, the ex-military chaplain during 
World War II who had tirelessly established missions on the atolls of the 
central Pacific, building churches everywhere, catechizing people who 
had only the vaguest knowledge of Christianity, even importing thread 
that the women of his parishes could use on traditional looms to weave 
their distinctive lavalavas, had died of throat cancer. Ed McManus, who 
had arrived a year after the end of the war and had gone on to become 
the father figure of the Palau Islands, a man whose long shadow could 
be ascribed to his linguistic and cultural understanding of the area rath- 
er than his feats of construction, had passed away in 1969. Father Ber- 
ganza, a saintly Spanish priest who seemed to be without a first name as 
far as we could tell, died in 1973 on Pohnpei, the island on which he had 
lived and worked for nearly half a century. Br. Bill Condon, who had 
supervised the construction of half the post-war church buildings on 
Pohnpei during his twenty years of service in the mission, had returned 
to the United States in 1972 because of failing health. Vincent Kennally, 
formerly assigned to the Philippines where he, together with Bill Rively 
and John Nicholson, had endured Japanese internment in Santo Tomas 
during the war, was named the superior of the mission months after the 
war ended. After another brief stint in the Philippines, he returned to 

Life at the Edge of the World * 21 

serve as bishop of the Caroline and Marshall Islands for two critical de- 
cades. Exhausted and in poor health, Kennally left the mission in 1974 
and died three years later in the Philippines. 

Others would remain in the mission a while longer. Bill Rively, 
who had spent nearly his whole adult life in the Mortlock Islands where 
he was practically worshiped by his people, would continue to serve 
in the mission for another fifteen years before retirement. John Nich- 
olson, also a survivor of the concentration camp and another of those 
men who seemed to be able to build veritable cathedrals anywhere they 
went, would retire within a year or two of his close friend, Bill Rively. 
Hugh Costigan, one of the first American Jesuits assigned to the mis- 
sion after the war and founder of Pohnpei Agriculture and Trade School 
(PATS), was still active at this time, although he would succumb to can- 
cer in 1987. Then there was Len Hacker, the indefatigable pastor of Ma- 
juro, the center of the Marshall Islands, a firmly Protestant stronghold. 
When he wasn't visiting the sick, instructing altar boys, or picking up 
his sparse Catholic flock on an ancient bus that he was hard pressed to 
keep running, he was building something — a school, a convent, it didn't 
much matter what. On the side, he organized a boys band that became a 
legend in the islands even though he never learned to read music. Out- 
lasting all of his contemporaries, Hacker continued working in the Mar- 
snails until 2001. 

These were the founders of the post-war mission, the early arriv- 
als, those whose task was to build (or rebuild) the church in the islands 
and to provide instruction and the sacraments, as well as to put up the 
buildings in which such activities were carried out. Those of us who 
followed couldn't imagine ourselves the equals of these men. The de- 
privations that we who arrived later experienced were modest by com- 
parison with what they had endured. We knew them well enough to 
be able to describe in rich detail their quirks: most were loners (an oc- 
cupational hazard for missionaries); some of them were infamous for 
the torrent of words that flowed from their mouths, usually about their 
own projects, but we couldn't imagine achieving what they had. Let 
me add that neither could I imagine any of them submitting to the sec- 
ond-guessing that I was inflicting on myself as I deliberated whether 
to stay in the mission and why. They were old-time missionaries, these 
men who had won our respect. 

Our latter-day companions were men like Bill Suchan, Andrew 
Connolly, and John Condon. Too late to be considered pioneers, these 

22 % Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

mere mortals came to the mission to contribute what they could. Al- 
though they were not all gifted linguists or great planners, they preached 
and taught and did all they could to meet the spiritual and other needs 
of their people. Not everything they touched took on a gilded glitter, let 
it be noted. Their initial credit unions ended when loans were not repaid 
and cash ran out, while Jack Fogelsanger's cement-boat-building proj- 
ect, a feature of popular mission magazines of the day, fizzled as fund- 
ing sources dried up and neglect of maintenance took its inevitable toll 
on the boats completed. It was easy for a newcomer like me to find com- 
fort in their friendship, for they too must have wondered whether they 
really belonged. As Dick Hoar, another of the second generation and 
himself a remarkable builder, often remarked, "We have here no last- 
ing city/ 7 As warm and receptive as island people were, none of us was 
prepared to believe that we truly belonged to the societies in which we 
ministered. The cultural values we embraced and the "half languages" 
we spoke marked us as different, however much we may have wanted 
to believe otherwise. We were men with one foot in island society but 
with the other firmly planted in our own culture, men straddling societ- 
ies separated by more than just a huge body of water. 

IV. Redefinition of Our Mission 

If building up the church was the goal of our work, the first genera- 
tion of American Jesuits had done an admirable job of it. Cadging 
military surplus (unused quonset huts, rebars, cement, and what- 
ever else they could find), they had constructed churches and rectories 
and convents and schools by the dozens under the most difficult of con- 
ditions. They opened so many new schools that by the mid-1960s nearly 
one out of every five children were enrolled in a Catholic school. In just 
twenty years, the early American Jesuits had not only restored what the 
war had destroyed, but had created a church network that surpassed 
anything before it. 

But other forces were at work in the islands as in other parts of the 
world, urging the church to take several steps beyond all this. A mis- 
sion-planning council, the first of its kind in Micronesia, was held in the 
early 1970s to determine future mission directions. 14 The council, echo- 
ing concerns voiced at Vatican II, recommended increased collaboration 

14 The Vicariate Pastoral Planning Council was summoned by Bishop Kennally in 
1971 and finished its work the following year. 

Life at the Edge of the World ?r 23 

among pastors and between pastors and laity to address major problem 
areas in the islands. Jesuits and their colleagues in Micronesia, as else- 
where around the globe, were beginning to ask what they could do to 
contribute to the full human development of the islands they served. Af- 
ter all, the Church everywhere was beginning to recognize that commu- 
nity development in its various dimensions was the underpinning for 
genuine religious growth. Everywhere in those heady days the words 
of Irenaeus were plastered on walls and quoted at seminars: 'The glory 
of God is man fully alive. " l5 

Islanders were confronting the modern world to an extent hith- 
erto inconceivable. Thousands of additional Micronesians were now 
earning salaries, thanks to the increase in government jobs that result- 
ed from the greatly increased U.S. yearly subsidies to its Trust Territo- 
ry. The new wealth translated into increased mobility for islanders, an 
influx into the towns, loss of traditional sanctions, and a host of social 
problems that ranged from suicide to youth gangs to family violence. 16 
On top of this were other issues that would have to be addressed in the 
near future: a choice of future political status (since the current U.N. 
trusteeship would not last forever and talks between island representa- 
tives and the U.S. Government were already underway to determine the 
political future of the islands), not to mention the concomitant need to 
take the first serious steps toward economic development if the islands 
were ever to be self-reliant. 

Conscientization was the byword of the day, and Paolo Freire be- 
came required reading. 17 If we were to help people satisfy their needs, 
even as they grew in dignity and self-respect, we would have to step 
back and assist them to understand and engage their own problems. 
This demanded more of the church than directly providing what people 
needed in life; it meant a commitment to helping people peer deeply 
into the realities of their society so they could address their own needs. 
In an earlier day it might have been enough for the pastor to run the 
parish and school, but so much more seemed to be demanded of church 

15 St. Irenaeus, Adversus hsereses 4.20.7. 

16 See, for instance, Mac Marshall, Weekend Warriors: Alcohol in a Micronesian Cul- 
ture (Palo Alto, Cal.: Mayfield, 1979); Francis X. Hezel, "Suicide and the Micronesian 
Family/' Contemporary Pacific 1, no. 1 (1989): 43-74; Michael Kenney, Youth in Micronesia 
in the 1970s: The Impact of Changing Family, Employment, and justice Systems (Saipan: Trust 
Territory Government, 1976). 

17 Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970). 

24: * Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

leaders in this age. If the church had always provided education for 
school children, perhaps it was time to expand this education to the 
community at large and to extend it beyond the three Rs to the host of 
issues that people faced as they engaged in the struggle with moderni- 

From all this sprang a whole range of community-education pro- 
grams: workshops for church lay leaders, mobile teams that moved 
from village to village for a few days at a time to draw local people into 
a discussion of these problems, and production of radio dramas that 
could offer listeners the chance to confront the issues of the day in all 
their flesh- and-blood concreteness. Of course, this effort demanded a 
degree of collaboration that was hitherto unimaginable in this far-flung 
mission, in which each pastor had always been truly lord of his domain. 
Thus, new missionwide offices were created — for media, for the social 
apostolate, and for catechetics — and pastors were encouraged to join 
forces in order to think and plan beyond their parish boundaries. 

Micronesian Seminar 

The Micronesian Seminar (popularly known as MicSem) that I 
was to direct issued from the same planning council of the early 1970s. 
The program was initially envisioned as an instrument for providing re- 
newal for mission personnel, especially through the two-week summer 
workshops that were held every other year. Some of the more forward- 
thinking Jesuits in the mission recognized that we all had some catching 
up to do, on theology, to be sure, as well as on the issues that islanders 
were facing as they modernized. If we were to help our people inte- 
grate faith and life, we all needed a deeper understanding of the issues 
our people were confronting. So, the Micronesian Seminar was to help 
equip pastors and their associates to engage in grass-roots community 

Directing such a program would have been a dream assignment 
for a polymath, a latter-day Renaissance Man, and I fully appreciated 
the possibilities that the position offered. But the job description meant 
bouncing from one issue to another: political status this year, youth prob- 
lems the next, and economic development issues the year after that. For 
a person who wondered whether he could master the art of small-boat 
repair and mixing concrete, the stakes were now upped: I was asked to 
trip lightly from sociology to economics, to anthropology, to political 
science. Here we were again, trying to do everything: "Jack of all trades; 
master of none." 

Life at the Edge of the World $& 25 

Our work began modestly: running each year a week-long confer- 
ence attended by people from all parts of Micronesia, and organizing bi- 
ennial workshops that would update our mission personnel in theology 
and some of the development issues that were surfacing. Within a few 
years the mission workshops were discontinued, and MicSem began 
speaking more directly to island people themselves. Through the 1980s 
the focus of MicSem broadened and its output increased. We were pro- 
ducing papers addressing such diverse issues as the ethical questions 
involved in political status, the constraints of economic development, 


and the overall impact upon island society of expanded college educa- 
tion for young Micronesians. In time, the range of topics expanded even 
further to include health issues, domestic violence, and drug use, and 
others besides. Meanwhile, we graduated from presentations and pub- 
lications to video programs that were broadcast on the local TV chan- 
nels that had became part of island life since the late 1980s. In time, we 

26 % Francis X. Hezel, S J. 

created a website ( that offered Micronesians, includ- 
ing the thousands who by then had moved to the United States, access 
to our publications, educational videos, historical photo albums, and 
even a discussion forum. 

My own interest in island history and culture, along with the ab- 
sence of any real social life, it should be added, led to the publication of 
a number of works on the islands: a few general histories of the islands, 
a history of the Catholic Church in the area, and a volume on social 
change in the islands since World War II, among others, but these were 
a personal diversion. 18 In other ways, MicSem worked to engage island 
people as a conversation partner. Paolo Freire would have been proud 
of us. We were trying to conscientize: to deepen people's understand- 
ing of their own problems in full confidence that once they understood 
them they could somehow resolve them. This was the public education 
thrust of MicSem that we have tried to maintain ever since. 

Building a Local Church 

From the outset we Jesuits have understood that the ultimate 
goal of our work overseas was to work ourselves out of a job. The ear- 
liest mission encyclicals stressed the importance of establishing a local 
church-local clergy and local support. 19 In the years following Vatican 
II, of course, the understanding of a local church was broadened even 
further; it was to be a church rooted in the culture, one that took on 
some of the distinctive characteristics of the soil in which it grew. 

The Spanish Jesuits who cared for the mission before the war 
were well aware of the need to provide local clergy. During the 1920s 
and 1930s, they sent off a dozen young island men to seminaries in Ma- 
nila and Tokyo. As it happened, only one of them was ordained: Pau- 
lino Cantero, a Jesuit who served in Spain during the war years and re- 
turned to Micronesia soon afterwards to work on his home island of 
Pohnpei for nearly forty years. Then came Felix Yaoch, who entered the 
Society from Palau in the mid-1950s, was ordained in Buffalo in 1967, 
and became a beloved figure in Palau during his thirty-five years of ser- 
vice before his death in 2002. There were others as the years went by: Br.. 
Cypriano Moses and Fr. Apollo Thall, who have passed away, as well as 

18 For those who may be interested, the titles of these books, along with a brief de- 
scription of each, may be found on our website, 

19 Benedict XV mentions this in Maximum Illud (1919), and the point is reasserted 
by Pius XII in his two mission encyclicals, Evangelii prxcones and Fidei donum. 

Life at the Edge of the World * 27 

those who continue their work up to the present: Br.. Juan Ngiraibuuch 
and Fr. Wayne Tkel from Palau, and Frs. John Hagileiram and Ken Uru- 
molug from Yap. Indeed, our present regional superior, John Hagile- 
iram, is a Micronesian, the second local Jesuit to be named to this posi- 

There were also diocesan priests being ordained, beginning in 
1977. Today there are about a dozen engaged in active ministry in the is- 
lands, one of whom, Amando Samo, was appointed bishop of the Caro- 
line Islands in 1995. With the growth of the local clergy in the past two 
decades, Micronesian priests are able to provide for the full pastoral 
care of the vicariates of Palau, Yap, and Chuuk. Only the vicariate of 
Pohnpei remains dependent on foreign priests today, and even there 
deacon pastors have assumed full administrative responsibility for the 

Women's vocations to the religious life also flourished. The Mer- 
cedarian Missionaries of Berriz, a Spanish missionary order that did pio- 
neering work in the schools throughout the islands, have received about 
a hundred young Micronesian women into their congregation over the 
years. Still other have joined the Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice, who en- 
tered the field in 1980, and a few have entered religious congregations 
on Guam and in the United States. 

Micronesianization, as we like to call it, has gone beyond replac- 
ing white-skinned pastors and religious with those of a darker skin col- 
or. There is a sensitivity to inculturation felt everywhere in the islands 
today. Many local features have been incorporated into the liturgical life 
of the church, from the traditional Yapese dances on Good Friday that 
replace the Reproaches during the veneration of the cross to the com- 
munal reconciliation services on Pohnpei that make use of the offering 
of kava, a drink made from an indigenous plant. Songs and worship 
styles have been altered, and so have administrative procedures. Adap- 
tation of church practice to reflect cultural life and values has clearly be- 
gun and will undoubtedly continue. 

The logic of indigenization is obvious and the goal is admirable, 
but the process is not always a painless one, as many of those Jesuits 
who served in the Philippines in the early 1970s can testify. Foreign mis- 
sionaries are likely to ask whether they have overstayed their welcome. 
Or, even worse, not to ask that question at all. With the build-up of lo- 
cal clergy, we enter the second stage of mission work. In the first, we 
have had to put aside whatever reservations we may have had about 

28 * Francis X. Hezel, S J. 

our competence and leap into whatever job needed to be done. Now we 
sense that we are second-raters, even in our own small pasture. Our task 
now is to move gracefully to the sidelines, perhaps offstage altogeth- 
er as roles are reversed. "We have no lasting home here/' as my friend 
Dick Hoar used to say. 

Father Kolvenbach, at a meeting of provincials in the Assistancy 
of East Asia and Oceania, once cited a French saying, "The missionary 
has two gifts to offer his people: his envoi and his renvoi — his arrival and 
his return home." The irony is that it takes half our lives to become com- 
fortable in our new cultural surroundings, only to find out that we are 
called to surrender them — or at least to move aside to the margins. This, 
of course, demands a double renunciation: any mission requires at least 
as much effort to give up as it does to assume. 

The Balance Sheet 

If the goal of the missionary effort is to establish a self-sustaining 
church, then the islands may be considered a success. Just two years 
ago, the Marshall Islands were entrusted to the care of the Missionar- 
ies of the Sacred Heart, the religious order that initiated the first mission 
there over a century ago. Hence, the Society's efforts have become con- 
centrated on the Caroline Islands. With fourteen local diocesan priests 
now in active ministry and another four young seminarians currently in 
preparation for ordination, not to mention the dozens of ordained dea- 
cons, the local leadership of the church seems to be guaranteed. 

The handful of Micronesian Jesuits along with the dozen Amer- 
ican Jesuits that constitutes the remnant of the New York Province 
mission provide additional support for the local church. Xavier High 
School, the Jesuit flagship educational institution in the islands, has con- 
sistently maintained its standard of academic excellence even as it ap- 
proaches its sixtieth anniversary. It still draws many of the most talent- 
ed young men and women from throughout the islands just as it always 
has. PATS, the Jesuit-run vocational high school on Pohnpei, was closed 
in 2005, but the Society had already started a regional education pro- 
gram, headed by Jim Croghan, to support the private schools from one 
end of the diocese to the other. Even more recently, the Society created a 
leadership-training program under the direction of Greg Muckenhaupt. 
Micronesian Seminar, too, remains a major focal point of the Society's 
effort at community education. 

Life at the Edge of the World * 29 

This success was not purchased cheaply. The Society of Jesus has 
tended this mission for just short of ninety years, prodigally assigning 
manpower to staff these islands. Fifty-six Spanish Jesuits worked here, 
and another 92 American Jesuits were assigned to the mission for vary- 
ing lengths of time. An additional 30 Asian Jesuits spent time in the is- 
lands, most of them at Xavier High School during their regency. In all, 
178 foreign Jesuits labored in the mission, and doesn't include the 71 
Capuchins and 25 Missionaries of the Sacred Heart who served the area 
even earlier. Together Jesuits have dedicated over two thousand man- 
years of service, two millennia of work, to establishing the church in an 
area that numbers fewer than 180,000 people. Was it worth it? Was the 
Society, and the church it serves, justified in lavishing resources of this 
magnitude on a territory that many would consider a backwater? 

The Value of a "Backwater" 

In Part VII of the Constitutions, Ignatius lays down norms for the 
choice of ministries that are entirely reasonable: works in which " great- 
er fruit is likely to be reaped/ 7 for instance, or service of those "per- 
sons and places, which once benefitted, are a cause of extending the 
good to many others," in other words, ministries that promise a mul- 
tiplier effect. 20 Throughout this section, Ignatius insists on the impor- 
tance of the more universal: large nations, important cities, numerous 
persons. Yet, he also recommends that we "select that part of the vine- 
yard where there is greater need . . . because of lack of other workers." 
This last norm is precisely what brought the Society of Jesus to Micro- 
nesia in 1920 — that and the important fact that the Pope urged this mis- 
sion on the Society. It is also the reason we've continued this aposto- 
late since then, almost contrary to the norms most commonly employed 
for choice of ministry. Yet, in my opinion, a theological case can also be 
made for Jesuit involvement in such a "backwater." 

For the Church to be credible and to be faithful to the original sum- 
mons of Christ, it must reach out to all peoples everywhere in the world. 
There can be no limits placed on the evangelization of the Church, just 
as there are no limits to the love of the Lord, Most of us today can easi- 
ly imagine that isolated people, those who live and die outside of the 
Church, can be saved without explicit knowledge of the Gospel. But 
personal salvation is not the issue here. It is a matter of what the Church 

20 The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus and Their Complementary Norms, ed. John 
W. Padberg, S.J. (St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Studies, 1996), Part VII, [622] (p. 284). 

30 * Francis X. Hezel, S J. 

must do to be true to its call if it is to truly stand as a sign of Christ's sav- 
ing summons to the world. The Church must continue to cross borders, 
cultural and national, if only to testify to the universal saving mission 
of the Lord. There can be no people so marginalized, so remote as to be 
forgotten or written off by the Lord, or those who carry on his mission. 
Even backwaters have a claim on the Good News. 

The word that we must speak with our lives is a word of love, 
something that is to be proclaimed in more than narrowly religious 
terms, in deed as well as in word. Our hope is that somehow this is 
communicated to the people to whom we minister through the service 
we offer, even those who will never attend a Church liturgy. The obli- 
gation of Jesuits to embody this message of love in works of service is a 
theme as old as the Society itself. From the earliest days of the Society, 
Ignatius and his men busied themselves founding houses for "fallen" 
women, caring for orphans, and tending to plague victims. Likewise 
today, schools, social involvement, healing of different sorts can speak 
of the love of the Christ who healed bodies as well as souls. So can eco- 
nomic-development workshops and educational TV programs in a soci- 
ety that badly needs an understanding of its place in the modern world. 
The form of the service may change from place to place or from one age 
to another, but the underlying message is timeless. 

Our hope is that what we do at the edge of the world is seen as a 
pale reflection of the love of Christ for all, not just those who happen to 
be conveniently located in this world of ours. Our mission overseas can 
also serve as a reminder to fellow Jesuits in the United States, as well as 
to others who share our faith, that borders are meant to be crossed if the 
Gospel is to be proclaimed in its fullness. The Church has been doing 
this since the days of Paul. Jesuits, too, have a long and proud history 
of crossing national boundaries and cultural barriers in proclaiming the 
gospel. 21 Indeed, it has been the Society's badge of distinction to minis- 
ter to the leftovers of the world. 

21 Numbered among these Jesuit border crossers are two men, Eusebio Kino and 
Jacques Marquette, who have been acclaimed for the contributions they have made to 
our own country and whose images are to be found in the Rotunda of the Capitol in 

Life at the Edge of the World * 31 

V. Other Forms of Border Crossing 

Such a rationale, of course, can be used to explain our presence in 
so many other areas of ministry today — from soup kitchens to 
work on behalf of political refugees and illegal immigrants. Not 
long ago Fr. Kenneth Gavin, the director of Jesuit Refugee Service, and 
I enjoyed a dinner conversation in which we discussed our common 
concerns and hopes for the Society today. For anyone eavesdropping on 
the conversation, it would have been difficult to tell which of us was in- 
volved in refugee work and which was the foreign missionary. 

Today as never before, the outside world has been coming to us 
in the person of immigrants, political refugees, the needy of our nation. 
There is no need to travel very far to find those who speak other lan- 
guages or practice different cultural ways. We who have spent our lives 
abroad have every reason to be proud of the creative Jesuit response 
to the marginalized in this country. Nativity-type middle schools and 
Cristo Rey high schools have, in effect, been eloquent testimony to our 
readiness to cross such boundaries even within our own country. More- 
over, these schools have offered models of education, just as the early 
Jesuit schools in Europe once did, for others to utilize and even im- 
prove upon. 

Even so, the Society is still sending personnel abroad, although 
for limited periods of time and in response to particular needs in cer- 
tain parts of the world. If traditional Jesuit missionary activity around 
the globe has declined, short-term, carefully targeted missions abound 
today. The clearest example of this may be the work that Jesuit Refugee 
Service has been engaged in for over thirty years on behalf of the mil- 
lions who have been dislocated, often forcibly, from their own home- 
lands. In the United States alone, JRS has played a major role in the relo- 
cation of three million refugees over the past quarter century. As crises 
arise in different parts of the world, JRS targets the areas that need assis- 
tance and, together with other relief agencies, dispatches men and sup- 
plies to the people in need. Hundreds of Jesuits throughout the world 
have served for at least a year or two with JRS to testify to the Church's 
concern for the forgotten of the world. 

We who are assigned to the overseas apostolate may be declin- 
ing in numbers, but we have countless kindred spirits working today 
among those living at the fringes of society, both in this country and 
abroad. We join forces in proclaiming, each in his own way, that it is 

32 %? Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

not power, fame, and wealth that bestow the blessings of the Kingdom, 
but it is the lowly whom the Lord will search out and offer his love. For 
me, these "lowly" have been the people of the Caroline-Marshalls; for 
others they are the prisoners on Ryker's Island or the street kids in the 
South Bronx. 

The Passing of the Foreign Missions 

The foreign missionary, long the pride of the province, is close to 
becoming an anachronism these days. A few years ago, on a furlough 
to the province, I was invited to look through piles of photos and docu- 
ments on the Micronesian mission and to take what I needed, since the 
venerable Jesuit Seminary and Mission Bureau was closing down. We 
were losing our home in New York, the place in which all overseas mis- 
sionaries felt most comfortable, just a few years after the annual Jesuit 
Mission Dinner was discontinued. It was like returning to our birthplace 
to find that the house in which we were raised, the family homestead, 
had been torn down. The staff that had once sent out our Christmas let- 
ters, posted our supplies, and welcomed us on our return to New York 
was busy with other duties now. This gave rise to a nagging feeling in us 
old mission hands that we had become marginalized, just like the peo- 
ple we served. 

In the past, the Jesuits who worked among the "savages" in New 
France, or among the Chamorros in the Mariana Islands, or among the 
Guarani in South America might have been the models of men ready to 
go to the extreme in their service of the Lord. Ignatius, after all, repeat- 
edly uses the expression "even to the Indies" in describing how vast the 
range of our ministries should be. Today there are men serving in plac- 
es like East Los Angeles or downtown Newark, places that are at least 
as challenging and probably more culturally diverse than many of the 
overseas apostolates we staff. 

It is understandable, then, that overseas work has lost much of its 
exoticism today. We can't expect Jesuit houses to roll out the carpet for 
us missionaries, nor do we expect the New York Province to restore the 
home away from home that we once found in the Mission Bureau of- 
fices on Eighty-third Street. The overseas apostolates can be folded into 
something broader, something that represents the wider spectrum of 
missions that Jesuits undertake today. In the past, the term "missionar- 
ies" was reserved for those who went overseas to work in foreign fields, 
presumably for the duration of their lives. Today, we have reclaimed the 
word "mission" for all Jesuits who are sent away to carry out an apos- 

Life at the Edge of the World % 33 

tolate, no matter whether it is abroad or at home. Hence, we are all, in a 
genuine sense, missionaries today. 

Still, there may remain a touch of the extreme in missions to the 
overseas apostolate. It may be that we haven't completely shaken off the 
exhilaration of that phrase "even to the Indies/' the sense that, short of 
stowing away on a moon shot, we couldn't do anything more extreme 
than going on mission overseas. Indeed, an assignment to an overseas 
apostolate may remain the clearest and most radical expression of what 
it means to be a Jesuit on mission: one prepared to travel to the ends of 
the earth and remain there as long as he was needed. In their ignorance 
of what they will face, Jesuits have not always packed very well for 
their overseas assignments, nor have they always brought the skills that 
would have proved most useful, but they are forced to trust that they 
can pick up along the way what they will need. Disponability and con- 
fidence in the face of risks are features required in any Jesuit dispatched 
on a mission, even those sent to the parish or school down the street, 
but their importance is heightened for Jesuits sent to a place in the other 

Think Big Even When Living Small 

The symbols of the idealism that once moved people of my genera- 
tion — the quests of knights setting forth on heroic missions, the worlds 
to be won for Christ — may have faded, the victim of an increasingly 
complex world and a more sophisticated understanding of the limita- 
tions of what a single person can do. Certainly what prompted me to 
sign up for the missions by the poolside during philosophy in 1962 is no 
longer the compelling motive it once was. If doing great deeds for the 
Lord was refined into something truer and more spiritual in the life of 
Ignatius, why shouldn't the same happen to his followers? Our hearts 
soften as we pray and age, and our thoughts linger less on what we can 
accomplish than on the fond hopes we have for the people we serve. 

The mythology we draw upon to support what we do may change, 
but let's hope the grand idealism remains. It probably does, if the vo- 
cation-promotion literature that is passed on to us by the province is 
any indication. "Do you want to make a difference?" it asks prospective 
candidates for the Society. Many years ago when I was in Rome attend- 
ing the workshop that all new provincials and regional superiors are re- 
quired to attend, I felt a thrill whenever I passed the statue of Ignatius 
in the Jesuit Curia with the challenging words inscribed on its base: "Ite 

34 * Francis X. Hezel, S.J. 

incendite inflammate omnia/' The old symbolism may have changed, 
but the challenge to attempt the impossible remains. 

A half-century ago, a Jesuit scholastic in our year scribbled in 
Greek on our classroom chalkboard the famous quote from Archime- 
des: "Give me somewhere to stand and I will move the earth. ,/ That 
scholastic may have just been trying out his Greek, but he was also ex- 
pressing something more, something that resonated with most of us at 
the time. Move the earth, set fire to the world, but it has to begin some- 
where. We need a perch, a place to plant our feet. 

Despite my early doubts, Micronesia has proved to me to be as 
good a place to stand as anywhere else. I think I can say with confidence 
that my Jesuit companions in the mission field, past and present, have 
shared my feelings. Whatever else Micronesia has done for us, such as 
educate us to how people of another culture view the world and temper 
the convictions that owe as much to our ethnicity as to timeless princi- 
ple, it has also given us a pulpit from which to speak of the importance 
of caring for the forgotten people of the world. The edge of the world 
may not be a bad perch after all from which to try to move the globe. 

Past Issues of Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 
Available for Sale 

(For prices, see inside back cover.) 

1/1 Sheets, Profile of the Contemporary Jesuit (Sept. 1969) 

1/2 Ganss, Authentic Spiritual Exercises: History and Terminology (Nov. 1969) 

2/1 Burke, Institution and Person (Feb. 1970) 

2/2 Futrell, Ignatian Discernment (Apr. 1970) 

2/3 Lonergan, Response of the Jesuit as Priest and Apostle (Sept. 1970) 

3/1 Wright, Grace of Our Founder and the Grace of Our Vocation (Feb. 1971) 

3/2 O'Flaherty, Some Reflections on Jesuit Commitment (Apr. 1971) 

3/4 Toner, A Method for Communal Discernment of God's Will (Sept. 1971) 

3/5 Sheets, Toward a Theology of the Religious Life (Nov. 1971) 

4/2 Two Discussions: I. Spiritual Direction, II. Leadership and Authority (Mar. 1972) 

4/3 Orsy, Some Questions about the Purpose and Scope of the General Congregation 

(June 1972) 
4/4 Ganss, Wright, O'Malley, O'Donovan, Dulles, On Continuity and Change: A 
Symposium (Oct. 1972) 
5/1-2 O'Flaherty, Renewal: Call and Response (Jan.-Mar. 1973) 
5/3 Arrupe, McNaspy, The Place of Art in Jesuit Life (Apr. 1973) 
5/4 Haughey, The Pentecostal Thing and Jesuits (June 1973) 
5/5 Orsy, Toward a Theological Evaluation of Communal Discernment (Oct. 1973) 
6/3 Knight, Joy and Judgment in Religious Obedience (Apr. 1974) 
7/1 Wright, Ganss, Orsy, On Thinking with the Church Today (Jan. 1975) 
7/2 Ganss, Christian Life Communities from the Sodalities (Mar. 1975) 
7/3 Connolly, Contemporary Spiritual Direction: Scope and Principles (June 1975) 
7/5 Buckley, The Confirmation of a Promise; Padberg, Continuity and Change in 

General Congregation XXXII (Nov. 1975) 
8/1 O'Neill, Acatamiento: Ignatian Reverence (Jan. 1976) 
8/2-3 De la Costa, Sheridan, and others, On Becoming Poor: A Symposium on Evan- 
gelical Poverty (Mar-May 1976) 
8/4 Faricy, Jesuit Community: Community of Prayer (Oct. 1976) 
9/1-2 Becker, Changes in U.S. Jesuit Membership, 1958-75; Others, Reactions and Ex- 
planations (Jan.-Mar. 1977) 
9/4 Connolly, Land, Jesuit Spiritualities and the Struggle for Social Justice (Sept. 

9/5 Gill, A Jesuit's Account of Conscience (Nov. 1977) 

10/1 Kammer, "Burn-Out" —Dilemma for the Jesuit Social Activist (Jan. 1978) 
10/4 Harvanek, Status of Obedience in the Society of Jesus; Others, Reactions to Con- 

. nolly-Land (Sept. 1978) 
11/1 Clancy, Feeling Bad about Feeling Good (Jan. 1979) 

11/2 Maruca, Our Personal Witness as Power to Evangelize Culture (Mar. 1979) 
11/3 Klein, American Jesuits and the Liturgy (May 1979) 
11/5 Conwell, The Kamikaze Factor: Choosing Jesuit Ministries (Nov. 1979) 
12/2 Henriot, Appleyard, Klein, Living Together in Mission: A Symposium on Small 

Apostolic Communities (Mar. 1980) 
12/3 Conwell, Living and Dying in the Society of Jesus (May 1980) 















Peter, Alcoholism in Jesuit Life (Jan. 1981) 

Ganss, Towards Understanding the Jesuit Brothers' Vocation (May 1981) 
Reites, St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jews (Sept. 1981) 
O'Malley, The Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and the Counter Reformation (Jan. 1982) 
Dulles, St. Ignatius and Jesuit Theological Tradition (Mar. 1982) 
Gray, An Experience in Ignatian Government (Sept. 1982) 
Ivern, The Future of Faith and Justice: Review of Decree Four (Nov. 1982) 
O'Malley, The Fourth Vow in Its Ignatian Context (Jan. 1983) 
Sullivan and Faricy, On Making the Spiritual Exercises for Renewal of Jesuit 
Charisms (Mar. 1983) 

Padberg, Jlie Society True to Itself: A Brief History of the 32nd General Congrega- 
tion of the Society of Jesus (May-Sept. 1983) 
Tetlow, Jesuits' Mission in Higher Education (Nov. 1983-Jan. 1984) 
O'Malley, To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jeronimo Nadal and the Jesuit Voca- 
tion (Mar. 1984) 

O'Hanlon, Integration of Christian Practices: A Western Christian Looks East (May 

Carlson, "A Faith Lived Out of Doors": Ongoing Formation (Sept. 1984) 
Spohn, St. Paul on Apostolic Celibacy and the Body of Christ (Jan. 1985) 
Daley, "In Ten Thousand Places": Christian Universality and the Jesuit Mission 
(Mar. 1985) 

Tetlow, Dialogue on the Sexual Maturing of Celibates (May 1985) 
Spohn, Coleman, Clarke, Henriot, Jesuits and Peacemaking (Sept. 1985) 
Kinerk, Wlien Jesuits Pray: A Perspective on the Prayer of Apostolic Pei'sons (Nov. 

Gelpi, The Converting Jesuit (Jan. 1986). 

Beirne, Compass and Catalyst: The Ministry of Administration (Mar. 1986) 
McCormick, Bishops as Teachers and Jesuits as Listeners (May 1986) 
Tetlow, The Transformation of Jesuit Poverty (Nov. 1986). 
Staudenmaier, United States Technology and Adult Commitment (Jan. 1987) 
Appleyard, Languages We Use: Talking about Religious Experience (Mar. 1987) 
Endean, Who Do You Say Ignatius Is? Jesuit Fundamentalism and Beyond (Nov 

Brackley Downward Mobility: Social Implications of St. Ignatius's Two Standards 
(Jan. 1988) 

Padberg, How We Live Where We Live (Mar. 1988) 

Hayes, Padberg, Staudenmaier, Symbols, Devotions, and Jesuits (May 1988) 
McGovern, Jesuit Education and Jesuit Spirituality (Sept. 1988) 
Barry, Jesuit Formation Today: An Invitation to Dialogue and Involvement (Nov. 

Wilson, Where Do We Belong? United States Jesuits and Their Memberships (Jan. 

Demoustier, Calvez, et al., The Disturbing Subject: The Option for the Poor (Mar. 

Soukup, Jesuit Response to the Communication Revolution (May 1989) 
Carroll, The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (Jan. 1990) 
Bracken, Jesuit Spirituality from a Process Prospective (March 1990) 
Shepherd, Fire for a Weekend: An Experience of the Exercises (May 1990) 
O'Sullivan, Trust Your Feelings, but Use Your Head (Sept. 1990) 
Coleman, A Company of Critics: Jesuits and the Intellectual Life (Nov. 1990) 

23/1 Houdek, The Road Too Often Traveled (Jan. 1991) 

23/3 Begheyn and Bogart, A Bibliography on St. lgnatius's Spiritual Exercises 

(May 1991) 

23/4 Shelton, Reflections on the Mental Health of Jesuits (Sept. 1991) 

23/5 Toolan, "Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire" (Nov. 1991) 

24/1 Houdek, Jesuit Prayer and Jesuit Ministry: Context and Possibilities (Jan. 1992) 

24/2 Smolich, Testing the Water: Jesuits Accompanying the Poor (March 1992) 

24/3 Hassel, Jesus Christ Changing Yesterday, Today, and Forever (May 1992) 

24/4 Shelton, Toward Healthy Jesuit Community Living (Sept. 1992) 

24/5 Cook, Jesus' Parables and the Faith That Does Justice (Nov. 1992) 

25/3 Padberg, Ignatius, the Popes, and Realistic Reverence (May 1993) 

25/4 Stahel, Toward General Congregation 34 (Sept. 1993) 

25/5 Baldovin, Christian Liturgy: An Annotated Bibliography (Nov. 1993) 

26/2 Murphy, The Many Ways of Jus tice (March 1 994) 

26/3 Staudenmaier, To Fall in Love with the World (May 1994) 

26/5 Landy, Myths That Shape Us (Nov. 1994) 

27/ 1 Daley, "To Be More like Christ" (Jan. 1995) 

27/2 Schmidt, Portraits and Landscapes (March 1995) 

27/3 Stockhausen, I'd Love to, but I Don't Have the Time (May 1995) 

27/4 Anderson, Jesuits in Jail, Ignatius to the Present (Sept. 1995) 

27/5 Shelton, Friendship in Jesuit Life (Nov. 1995) 

28/1 Begheyn, Bibliography on the History of the Jesuits (Jan. 1996) 

28/3 Clooney, In Ten Thousand Places, in Every Blade of Grass (May 1996) 

28/4 Starkloff, "As Different As Night and Day" (Sept. 1996) 

28/5 Beckett, Listening to Our History (Nov. 1996) 

29/1 Hamm, Preaching Biblical Justice (Jan. 1997) 

29/2 Padberg, The Three Forgotten Founders (March 1997) 

29/3 Byrne, Jesuits and Parish Ministry (May 1997) 

29/4 Keenan, Are Informationes Ethical? (Sept. 1997) 

29/5 Ferlita, The Road to Bethlehem -Is It Level or Winding? (Nov. 1997) 

30/1 Shore, The "Vita Christi" ofLudolph of Saxony and Its Influence on the "Spiritual 

Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola" (Jan. 1998) 

30/2 Starkloff, "I'm No Theologian, but... (or So... )?" (March 1998) 

30/3 Torrens, The Word That Clamors (May 1998) 

30/4 Petrik, "Being Sent" (Sept. 1998) 

30/5 Jackson, "One and the Same Vocation" (Nov. 1998) 

31/1 Clifford, Scripture and the Exercises (Jan. 1999) 

31/2 Toohig, Physics Research, a Search for God (March 1999) 

31/3 Fagin, Fidelity in the Church — Then and Now (May 1999) 

31/4 Schineller, Pilgrim Journey of Ignatius (Sept. 1999) 

31/5 Fullam, Juana, S.J.: Status of Women in the Society (Nov. 1999) 

32/1 Langan, The Good of Obedience in a Culture of Autonomy (Jan. 2000) 

32/2 Blake, Listen with Your Eyes (March 2000) 

32/3 Shelton, When a Jesuit Counsels Others (May 2000) 

32/4 Barry, Past, Present, and Future (Sept. 2000) 

32/5 Starkloff, Pilgrimage Re-envisioned (Nov. 2000) 

33/1 Kolvenbach et al., Faith, Justice, and American Jesuit Higher Education (Jan. 


33/2 Keenan, Unexpected Consequences: Persons's Christian Directory (March 2001) 

33/3 Arrupe, Trinitarian Inspiration of the Ignatian Charism (May 2001) 

33/4 Veale, Saint Ignatius Asks, "Are You Sure You Know Who I Am?" (Sept. 2001) 

33/5 Barry and Keenan, How Multicultural Are We? (Nov. 2001) 

34/1 Blake, "City of the Living God" (Jan. 2002) 

34/2 Clooney, A Charismfor Dialog (March 2002) 

34/3 Rehg, Christian Mindfulness (May 2002) 

34/4 Brackley, Expanding the Shrunken Soul (Sept. 2002) 

34/5 Bireley, The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War (Nov. 2002) 

35/1 Barry, Jesuit Spirituality for the Whole of Life (Jan. 2003) 

35/2 Madden /Janssens, The Training of Ours in the Sacred Liturgy (March 2003) 

35/4 Modras, A Jesuit in the Crucible (Sept. 2003) 

35/5 Lucas, Virtual Vessels, Mystical Signs (Nov. 2003) 

36/1 Rausch, Christian Life Communities for Jesuit University Students? (Spring 


36/2 Bernauer, The Holocaust and the Search for Forgiveness (Summer 2004) 

36/3 Nantais, "Whatever I" Is Not Ignatian Indifference (Fall 2004) 

36/4 Lukacs, The Incarnational Dynamic of the Constitutions (Winter 2004) 

37/1 Smolarski, Jesuits on the Moon (Spring 2005) 

37/2 McDonough, Clenched Fist or Open Hands? (Summer 2005) 

37/3 Torrens, Tuskegee Years (Fall 2005) 

37/4 O'Brien, Consolation in Action (Winter 2005) 

38/1 Schineller, In Their Own Words (Spring 2006) 

38/2 Jackson, "Something that happened to me at Manresa" (Summer 2006) 

38/3 Reiser, Locating the Grace of the Fourth Week (Fall 2006) 

38/4 O'Malley, Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism (Winter 2006) 

39/1 McKevitt, Italian Jesuits in Maryland (Spring 2007) 

39/2 Kelly, Loved into Freedom and Service (Summer 2007 

39/3 Kennedy, Music and the Jesuit Mission (Autumn 2007) 

39/4 Creed, Jesuits and the Homeless (Winter 2007) 

40 / 1 Giard, The Jesuit College (Spring 2008) 
40/2 Au, Ignatian Service (Summer 2008) 

40/3 Kaslyn, Jesuit Ministry of Publishing (Autumn 2008) 

40/4 Rehg, Value and Viability of the Jesuit Brothers' Vocation (Winter 2008) 

41/1 Friedrich, Governance in the Society of Jesus, 1540-1773 (Spring 2009) 

41/2 Manuel, Living Chastity (Summer 2009) 

41/3 Clarke, Our Lady of China (Autumn 2009) ( 

41 / 4 Hezel, Life at the Edge of the World (Winter 2009) 


) D 



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